Courts remain closed

Varsity tennis players will be without a true home this season as construction delays keep the Mount Vernon Tennis Facility closed. After problems at the facility forced the University to begin rebuilding the courts last year, winter weather has pushed the expected completion date back until the summer.
As a result, the GW men’s and women’s tennis teams will have practices and “home” meets at the Regency Sport and Health Club in McLean, Va., a 30- to 40-minute drive from Foggy Bottom.
“It’s like an extra hour of time we have for traveling,” senior Lindy First said. “It’s really frustrating to have no fans watch us.”
The Colonials, who have typically held at least half of their matches at Mount Vernon since the facility opened in 2001, will host only four men’s matches and two women’s matches in McLean this spring.
“I think it affects the team in terms of not having home meets, not having fans out there,” senior Matt Hane said, adding that he would not let that be an excuse to lose.
The indoor Mount Vernon tennis facility housed six NCAA regulation courts under a bubble, with an additional six courts outside the enclosure. Repairs were needed in spring 2002 to correct problems with the cement when cracks in the concrete caused “curling” in the courts, rendering them unplayable by NCAA standards.
Problems continued last spring, when the air-compressed bubble that covered the courts was removed due to drainage problems caused by the weather and the expensive upkeep of the bubble. Since then, other minor problems have occurred that set back construction. Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities Tony Vecchione said complications are to be expected in building a sports complex of this sort.
“There are always problems with construction,” he said. “We are taking the time to do things right.”
Patrick Cohen, a structural engineer who has been a consultant on the facility’s development since it was built in 2001, drew up a reconstruction plan last year that should prevent any major problems like curling from reoccurring. The company that built the facility in 2001, Segal Construction, will undertake the remainder of the reconstruction process. Now the only obstacle is the cold weather and occasional snow, according to Vecchione, who also said he could not specify the overall cost of reconstruction.
“Right now, the construction is on weather delay,” Vecchione said. “We can’t resume work until the weather breaks.”
Weather was also a factor last fall, as persistent rain and high winds caused the completion date, which was initially expected to be around November, to be pushed back several times.
Vecchione said construction is set to begin again in the spring, once temperatures rise.
But even then, officials plan to ensure that the courts are 100 percent fixed and damage-proof.
“Let’s get it right,” Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz said. “And when we fix it, let’s wait a while. Because who knows if when it’s fixed, it’s really fixed.”
-Subir Grewal and Jeff Nelson
contributed to this report.

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